Every summer when I go to my local garden center I look at their oak barrels for wine and/or vinegar making (their side-line) and have been so longing to try this at home. Anyone out there with any experience? I understand the basics. What I would like to know is: do I need to buy one of those "mothers in a jar" that costs $5, or can I use that wierd sludge that appears on the bottom of my french vinegar bottles. And is it totally foolish to buy expensive sherry wine -- I wish to make fabulous sherry vinegar -- with the intention of skimming some off, and aging the rest. I'll take risks; I am hoping to see what you chowhounds can offer about this -- Thanks in advance.