Magazine wine reviews rate a wine based on several qualities, like flavor, color, nose (smell), and ageability. With such an approach, the most delicious wine cannot receive a perfect score. I judge a wine based on the whole experience, which can often include the influence of the accompanying food, the setting, and the people I'm with. Although imperfect, the approach requires no special skills and approximates the typical wine-drinking situation.
To reflect the subjective nature of my ratings, I use a qualitative scale. The scale, from worst to best is Poor, Fair, Good (G), Very Good (VG), and Excellent (Exc). All ratings can be adjusted by a plus (+) or minus (-). A wine rated Good is a simple wine that can be enjoyed at a party, but probably will not stand up to the expectations created by a quiet gourmet meal. It will have satisfying but probably indistinct flavors, and it may possess flaws like a slightly unpleasant finish. A Very Good wine is very enjoyable in nearly any situation, and is the perfect complement to a delicious meal. An Excellent wine stands entirely on its own, but will be a spectacular centerpiece for any meal. Most of the wines you'll find in these tasting notes are in the Very Good range. Making the step to Excellent usually requires money, patience, or both.
When reading these reviews, remember that these rating reflect my personal tastes. My bias is towards red wines and dessert wines. You won't see many whites reviewed here, although I've been developing a taste for Chards and Viogniers, especially in summer. Worse, I am an inconsistent amateur. Wine changes over time, more rapidly if stored at warmer temperatures, so older reviews are suspect. However, a ``tight'' or ``closed'' wine may have improved in the meantime. It's your guess. Finally, food can dramatically affect the perception of a wine, as can other aspects of the setting. And frankly, it is easy for the cost of a wine (especially if I've paid for it) to influence a rating. A $7 wine rated Very Good may be a little blander or quirkier than one costing $15. Cheers!