Consider wood tint instead of stain. I find stain is basically a fluid with tiny bits of color suspended in it, those tiny bits tend to fill the pores and decrease the pop (3D).
Tint is like food coloring, I mix it with 50/50 water and denatured alcohol and a drop or two of tint. I dries very quickly and lifts the grain at the same time. I goes on so thin you paint it the color you like and if you are unhappy it sand off very easily, try that with stain.
It comes in all colors.
+1, 400 is fine enough, then go up to 600-800 when sanding between coats if you like. If you make the wood too smooth it becomes like wax and it's very hard to get color or finish to stick to it. Definitively wet it and open the pores as mentioned.