Lifestyle

Interview with Manoj Premanathan of SSMA on importing Italian wines to Singapore

Craving a slice of Italy? Thanks to SSMA, you can now enjoy a glass of fine Italian wine without leaving the sunny shores of Singapore

May 17, 2017 | By Robbie Wilson

The market for quality imported wines in Singapore is growing. As such, local importers are looking to attain the best. I sit down with Mr. Manoj Premanathan, the founder of SSMA and the importer of some of the finest quality wines in the city.

How did you come up with the idea to form SSMA and what challenges have you faced?

As a marble importer to Singapore, I travel to Italy quite often. On one trip to Suvereto to inspect marble blocks, the owner of the quarry had a heated dispute with my partners and moved his jacket to show us a pistol, holstered to his waist. We didn’t get shot, but the atmosphere at our lunch later that afternoon was tense. In an attempt to break the ice, I asked the quarry owner whether he had any wine that had never been exported out of Italy. He immediately mobilised his friend and sent me samples to bring to Singapore. The rest, as they say, is history and I’ve been importing wine from Italy ever since.

Starting any new business is a challenge and we had to move quickly to make this great opportunity a reality.

What does SSMA stand for?

SSMA are the initials of names of important people in my family. The first S is my wife Shamini. The second S is my niece Sharaveena, whom I used to look after. M is of course myself and A is for my daughter, Adela.

How many brands do you feature and where do they come from?

We feature about 10 brands from Italy. They come from the beautiful regions of Tuscany, Botticino, and another nearby Bologna.

There are a lot of grapes to choose from, which are your favourites?

I like 100% Grenache grapes and 100% Amarone grapes.

What sets you apart from other wine distributors?

You will not be able to attain the wine I import from anyone else. They have never been exported from Italy until now.

Which types of wine are most popular in Singapore?

There are a lot of good wines, but the most popular ones are the Amarone and Barolo.

Tell us about the lounge and shop you are constructing.

It is on the sixth floor of our building in Genting Lane. Inside, you’ll find a lounge and bar area as well as our store. We plan on having tasting sessions where visitors will have the opportunity to learn more about our fantastic Italian wines.

Of all the places you’ve travelled, where did you have your most memorable glass of wine?

The Masselina Vineyards in Italy.

This article was first published in Palace magazine.