Hi OW, nice to "see" you! If it's of any use to you, I'll share our experience with forming a local tasting group.
Yvonne and I were both interested in wine and attending local retail tastings here in Dayton, when she saw a post on the old WLDG from someone in the general area who was looking for a tasting group. Yvonne convinced me that the two of us should organize something, so we emailed the poster, who turned out to be the famous JuliaB. We had a couple of other friends who were interested in wine, and invited them to join us, and thus the Motley Cru was born. I posted some tasting notes on the old WLDG, and got a few private emails from folks in the area who were interested in joining us, so we grew to a core group of 8 folks, with others who occasionally join us.
We meet once a month, either at one of our homes or at a local wine retailer shop (there are two different places that have been willing to host us so far; we pay for the wine and snacks and they select them, research them, and talk to us about them). If one of us hosts it, we select the theme (for instance, the last time we hosted, the theme was Malbec, and the time before that, it was wines from the Piedmont, in honor of the Olympics). Sometimes we research the wines and start out by discussing that research.
Typically, at a home tasting, each person brings a bottle of on-theme wine, then we get a spouse or disinterested other to brown bag them. We usually try them in two flights, and we smell, taste, and write down our impressions before we discuss the wines, so that the less experienced tasters won't be influenced by the more experienced (or more confident) tasters.
JuliaB's husband, the elusive Louie, told a hilarious story to his friends after the first tasting they hosted: "They have special bags for the wine, and special glasses for it and special openers. When they finally pour it, they smell it, they swill it, they write notes about it, they talk about it, and the whole time, I'm thinking - would they just drink the damn stuff?"
We've been meeting together once a month for about 3 years now, and really enjoy it, although I'm also aware there is a chapter of AWFI in the local area with a much larger membership. Guess it kind of depends on what you're looking for - something bigger, or something more intimate.