Many modern commercial wines are made with the addition of sulfites, to help preserve the wine long term. Unfortunately, sulfites inhibit the growth of our desirable vinegar bacteria! Seek out "natural" wines that use minimal to no sulfites. If that option is not available, you can remove sulfites by stirring the wine continuously for about 30 minutes (quite the workout!) or add 1/2 teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide (3% from any drugstore) per bottle of wine. The addition of hydrogen peroxide is harmless, and a popular trick to ensure home vinegar makers' success!
3 cups wine (ideally free of sulfites) 1 1/2 cups filtered water 1 jar (1 1/2 cups) of mother of vinegar, which is made up of a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) and raw vinegar
Combine all ingredients in a large jar, crock or small oak barrel. If using a jar or crock, cover the top with muslin cloth and secure with a rubber band. Store in a warm, dark place and leave undisturbed for 30-60 days.
After 30 days, smell and taste your vinegar. It should smell and taste like vinegar and you may see a "mother" SCOBY forming on top. If it smells like nail polish remover, swirl to aerate the vinegar for 2 minutes. Your vinegar is not flawed, it just needs more oxygen to complete the fermentation. If you are using a wooden barrel, let it ferment in the barrel for a minimum of 3-4 months so the oak can impart a flavor and balance to your homemade vinegar.
Before bottling, reserve some of your vinegar to use as a starter for the next batch (see notes, below). Bottle your finished vinegar in dark bottles or a ceramic vessel. Vinegar, like fine wine, gets better with time.
The basic recipe for vinegar is 2 parts wine, 1 part filtered water and 1 part mother of vinegar. You can continue making vinegar using this ratio, with your reserved mother vinegar as one "part." Adjust the amount of water and wine accordingly.