Keep tabs on the look of finishes, particularly stains, by keeping an index.
Hold on to cutoffs from your projects for this purpose, and make sure you have a selection of lumber species. I recommend pine, poplar, and oak. If you work primarily with just a couple of species, just stick to those.
Apply stain to only one side of these cutoffs. Let it set however long you like before wiping off the stain, but be sure to keep up with the amount of time. After it dries, apply a coat of polyurethane (semi-gloss or satin), allow it to dry, then write on the back (I prefer a fine point black permanent marker) the brand, color, amount of time the stain set, and the day’s date. Store these pieces in a place that will not see direct sunlight, so the finish won’t fade. I prefer a cabinet or drawer that isn’t near any chemicals.
Every time you pick up a new stain, grab your cutoffs and do this indexing tip. Then, when you’re scratching your noggin trying to decide on a finish, you can simply look at your index for a rough idea.
HOWEVER, always test the stain on a piece of scrap from the stack of lumber you are working with at the time you are building a project for the most accurate evaluation of the stain.