MORE than €50,000 was spent last year on restocking the State's wine cellar.
The Department of Foreign Affairs spent €51,952 on wine for visits and events in 2011, over four times as much as the previous year. In total, almost €200,000 has been spent on wine since 2005, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.
The four-fold increase in expenditure in 2011 has been attributed to visits by Queen Elizabeth and President Barack Obama as well as the presidential election.
"The department's stock of wine is maintained for use in relation to state and official hospitality.
"Expenditure in 2011 reflects the significant number of high-level events and visits during the year and the need to plan ahead and restock for events relating to Ireland's chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in 2012 and the EU presidency in 2013.
"Stock is reviewed on a regular basis to maintain levels and ensure value for money. In general, expenditure averages €28,000 a year," a spokesperson for the department said.
The cellar holds 2,807 bottles of red and white wine with 610 of the bottles purchased costing over €50 each.
Fianna Fail spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Sean O Fearghail said he believed the amount spent is unjustifiable and pointed out that ministers were responsible for reducing expenditure in their departments. The most expensive wine stored is the 2001 Chateau Lynch Bages, Grand Cru Classe (left) which cost the department €79 a bottle. The oldest bottle of wine is the French Chateau Lynch Talbot (1995) which cost €38.41, now worth approximately €80.
The cheapest bottle is the Protocolo Tinto (2007) from Spain which costs €8.09 per bottle.
The department was unable to disclose which events warrant which wines.