Sangria! (Nigella Lawson)

With the temperatures in Boston hitting 90+ F in the past two days there's no denying that summer is here. I love sangria any time of the year but for me, it is the epitome of a summer drink. It's fitting that my favorite, go-to recipe comes from Nigella Lawson's Forever Summer.

I noticed that the recipe in my cookbook is stained with red wine - a testament to the number of times I've made this recipe. It's easy - just a combination of red wine, fruits, sugar, and brandy.

I like using a Spanish wine - a tempranillo or rioja - something fruity but not too full bodied. I tend to buy my wines from Trader Joe's - they have good, drinkable wines at a good price. Since I'm not a connoisseur by any means, I read the descriptions they provide and look for wines with lots of fruity notes. And since I'm making sangria I rarely choose a bottle that's more than $5.

Other than the type of wine - Nigella recommends a Cabernet Sauvignon - my only other deviation is to include a lime or two. If by chance the sangria lasts longer than 24 hours then be sure to remove the fruits and store them separately - don't throw them out. The rind from the citrus fruits will turn the sangria bitter if left for too long. The fruits on their own are delicious after they've soaked in the wine and brandy.

I often serve sangria with some simple tapas for a light supper on a hot summer night. A couple of my favorites are tomato and goat cheese toasts and hot & sweet cherry peppers stuffed with feta or goat cheese.