Sangria -- that blend of wine, fresh fruit and more -- comes in as many varieties are there are sangria makers. The Spanish drink has found its way onto menus of local restaurants and homes, mine included. What's the allure? It's about as easy to drink as fruit punch, which for all practical purposes it is.

You need to plan ahead if you're mixing the drink -- even a few hours will do, because you want the wine to pick up the flavors of whatever fruit you're using. Often a simple syrup is added to sweeten the mix, but you don't need to go that route if you'd rather skip the sugar. Same with the addition of liquor -- rum, brandy or gin being the popular additions. They do offer a layer of flavor to the drink, though it comes with a kick, given that it's more alcohol.

On a hot day, I prefer a low-alcohol blend that I can sip like lemonade or iced tea. That means I only use wine with fruit and sparkling water. Whether you start with red or white wine as the base depends on your taste or your mood. Whichever you choose, stick with a lighter-flavored wine that isn't too expensive (you are diluting it, after all).

Then come the rest of the ingredients. For the best flavor, stick with fresh fruit. Squeeze your own lime juice. The same with oranges and lemons. You'll notice the difference. Then the recipe is up to you. We've offered many variations, but you're the cook. Combine what sounds good to you at the moment. Next time you make it, you can change the flavors.