I struggled with the same issue. I watched every video I could find and followed the process to a T but mine always came out much darker than I wanted. The single biggest breakthrough I had was to take a couple paper towels, fold them a few times to make a firm, flat rag. Moisten the outside layer with water, and use that to remove the antique. You want just enough water to help wipe the antique off without wetting the paste in the cracks and background. I was amazed how much past I could get off. Then you can fold that layer inside the pad and have a clean surface again. Don’t be afraid to buff the foreground, it will come very clean. Then, as already stated, the final coat of Tan-Kote will take even more off and make it pop.
The second thing I did to get the result I was looking for was to switch to medium brown paste. It still gives great contrast in the tooling and finishing cuts, but doesn’t seem to stain through the vinework and foreground as bad, making it easier to get back to the original color.