The last big party I had left me with ends of many bottles of red wine. Waste-not, want-not. I bought some raw vinegar, boiled a jar, filled it with the raw vinegar and the ends of the wine, covered with cheesecloth and waited. After a while, I had what taste like a nice fruity mild vinegar. I poured off a bit for immediate use, then added some more wine. It's been about six months now, and the vinegar tastes quite nice.
So, here's the thing. I was considering investing in a vinegar-sized oak barrel, to age this stuff and get some really nice vinegar out of it. But when I went o-line to research, I found an overwhelming number of instructions for making vinegar - don't just use regular wine, because the sulfites will keep it from vinegaring! Don't use store-bought raw vinegar, because the mother will be dead! Evrything you're doing is wrong, wrong, wrong! Well, is it? I won't invest in a barrel (which are quite expensive) until I feel sure of what I'm doing with vinegar, but I can't help but be a bit suspicious of all the rules. Are the vinegar people being like the bread people who insist you can't make bread without knowing the exact rising temperature, etc.? Or is vinegar making fussier than I realized, and I've just been lucky so far? Does anyone make their own vinegar?