Cork’d came to life in May 2005, and since then it has been the place to be for both wine aficionados and newcomers. Cork’d’s goal is to bring wine out of the snobby wine cellars of the elite and let everyday people share the wines they enjoy. Users are encouraged to write reviews on the wines they partake, make a shopping list from wines you find, touch base with drinking buddies and take their recommendations. Cork’d was designed and produced by Dan Cederholm and Dan Benjamin, though it is now under different management.

remove the snobbery

The first thing that catches your eye is the overall playfulness of the typography on the site, blending both serif and sans-serif fonts in a way that would make any vintner proud. The second eye catcher is the great logo which is set in Triplex. The effect this creates reenforces the overall goal of the site, which was “to remove the snobbery often associated with the world of wine”. I think the choice of a thicker serif font with a touch of playfulness has set a perfect stage for the overall look and feel of the site.

harmony exemplified

Delving futher, the choice of colors compliment each other as well as the other elements on the page, from the icons throughout the site to way that the user uses the nav. Using multiple font families on one site can be hard enough without adding color into the picture. Color is used to draw you in but at the same time, not fight for your attention. With the use of a tan background the shades of the red type really help your eyes navigate to the important items. The font color that really caught my eye was the shade of light blue used for links. At first I was thrown aback by its use, but realized how it helps break up the reds and browns on the page.

The headlines and body copy really compliment each other; with the body copy Lucida Grande and the headlines set in Georgia. From the large red h2 to the olive green h4, the headline colors are definitely eye-catching. The use of font weights is another touch that most people will overlook, but I know the readers of this site will appreciate. These are the little touches that set this site apart both in design and usability. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see the way the fonts help usability instead of hindering it, all while making the site look great.


Let’s face it people, this review could have written itself with just a link to the site. Dan Cederholm really brought this site to life with his choice of colors, fonts and attention to detail. And we are all witness to the growing lack of these wonderful traits in many sites today. Cork’d overlooks nothing. It is a great site to use and let’s face it, if there is ever an excuse to be drinking while playing around online, than you can count me in.

Join me for a drink, won’t you?

  1. Hamish M

    Your last paragraph sums it up quite nicely Ryan, this site is a real Gem. Mr. Cederholm did a fantastic job — I can actually remember when it was first launched years ago, and it’s great to see the design hold up so well.

    Thanks for this great review.

  2. LesK

    Cork’d is a nice site.
    Too bad it’s useless and un-maintained. The “wine of the day” hasn’t changed for many weeks, maybe months. The database is small, and the rating system is not relevant to any other standards in place for wine, so it’s of no help when doing research. Oh well.

  3. Kevin Zak

    Very astute choice on the design, Ryan. The color scheme, as you said, is very well thought out. Elements that need to differentiate themselves from the rest do so wonderfully, and the eye is not strained yet still drawn. As LesK pointed out, the site would be wonderful if it was more active and better maintained (although the latter might affect the former).

    One small area of note that I believe could be improved on is the format of Tasting Tags in the single-wine view. They are brought out with a more defined right/bottom border that gives them an appearance of a button or some such thing. This, in my opinion, undermines the very purpose of tags: to navigate readers to similar posts. This is a job of a link, and a button just adds a layer of confusion to the system. It’s a minor detail, but it annoyed me somewhat when I gave the site a look-over.

    Other than a few minor flaws here and there, Cork’d presents an impressive design. The site itself could use a bit of love, but the design is still solid. Once again, very nice choice.

  4. kevadamson

    Aye. I remember being impressed when I first saw this site. I love to see a bit of illustration in sites as well - adds personality.

    I think there is much about this site to admire - not just from a typographical stand-point, and it’s great to see it standing the test of time in an industry which can make sites that are 6 months old look dated, never mind 3 years!

    Like great wines, I would say that “Cork’d” has matured well.

  5. Sketchplanet

    I think it’s unmaintained due to Dan selling it on many months ago

  6. Patrick

    I do love the color schemes that Dan seems to choose, a lot of times they are brighter colors wrapped in a more mellow contrast. A lot of people make the mistake of putting bright color schemes onto a white background, which then increases the ratio of contrast, and makes it overly-bright or often owwy to the eyes. I am not a huge fan of icons for portions of Web sites, but I think cork’d needed it, and I think it looks really good. Dan Cederholm really made a name for himself in many situations. I would love to be in that place, like many others I know.