THE wine cellar of a Government department is set to be raided – with up to 700 expensive bottles going for sale.
Following a review of the Department of Foreign Affairs's wine policy, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has decided that in future, with few exceptions, bottles worth €30 or less will be used for State functions.
The packed cellars of Iveagh House – where Mr Gilmore's department is based – has a collection of 2,343 bottles worth €77,767.
Almost a third of the 2,343 bottles in the cellars have been deemed tradable by wine expert and are to be put on the market for sale.
The department aims to sell the more expensive wines and it is hoped that almost €40,000 will be refunded to State coffers.
Among those being sold are 31 bottles of Chateau Lynch Bages Grand Cru Classe, 1998, which were bought for €58.65 a pop around 2005.
Also for sale are 22 bottles of Chateau Leoville Barton Cru Classe 1997 bought for €75 each in 2006.
And if that doesn't sound attractive, how about the 33 bottles of Kirwan Margaux 2000, which were bought before 2006 for €65 each?
A wine expert was brought in to review the stock, and anonymous feelers were put out to some wine dealers, without the department identifying itself.
Mr Gilmore has already ordered that bottles bought for official receptions and State dinners should cost no more than €10, with a cap of €20 for dinners.
The move is similar to a recent decision made by the Elysee Palace, the residence of the French president. It sold off a 10th of its cellar, and replaced some of the more expensive wines with cheaper ones.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs declined to comment.